Many today preach, and for years I was one of them, that the return of Christ is held back by a reference to Mattityahu (Matthew) 24:14 "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then the end shall come". But then, how do we reconcile Shaul's (Apostle Paul) statement in Colossians 1:23 "If you continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven....."
The accuracy of such a doctrine (in bold above) can be found in the Greek word translated as "end". That word is "tailos" from the Greek in English alphabetic characters. It does indeed mean "end", but not the very end. In other words, as it is used in Matthew 24:14 it is not referring to the Judgement Day. It is also referring to the end of the Tribulation period we find in Daniel's 70th Week. It is however making reference to the "Catching Away of the Saints" in II Thessalonians 4:17. The timing in which this occurs is found in 1 Corinthians 15:52 and Revelation 11:15-18:
1 Corinthains - "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." (emphasis added)
Revelation - "And the seventh angel sounded (their trumpet); and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth." (emphasis and insert added)
The 7th trumpet is the final trump.
We have to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture and stop basing our "theology" on the suppositions of those whom we believe are "the final authority" on any given subject!!
So, then the "end" (tailos) is near the end of Triblulation as in the final section of the 7 years. Therefore, how can we know we are prepared and ready for the "tailos"?
None of what I have said or will say in this blog is to say Colossians 1:23 is the ONLY fulfillment Yeshua/Jesus' statement about "the Gospel of the Kingdom" being "preached in every nation". Much of prophetic Scripture has had multiple events which appear to qualify as fulfillments. Shouldn't we consider that whether or not Mathew 24:14 was fulfilled by the time Shaul/Paul wrote Colossians 1:23, that may not be THE event which will trigger Yeshua's return for His Body-Bride? After all, it would seem that it might not line up with the whole of Scripture, and that Colossians 1:23 is contradicting this if it was THE fulfillment. Yet, even if it were, we have not yet witnessed all of the Trumpet judgements so there is still SOMETHING which must occur.
Simple logic and reason seem to indicate the problem is in thinking somehow one Scripture supercedes the other. Obviously what Yeshua spoke in Matthew 24:14 had been accomplished in the lifetime of Shaul; or Shaul is a liar - perhaps a crazed egomaniac? Surely neither can be true. We have too many historical evidences as proof that Shaul was a legitimate scholar, and an authority on Torah, the Prophets and Writings (the rest of the Hebrew Bible).
It's not likely he was misinterpreting what was going on. So then how can it be that Yeshua has not already returned? Again, it seems that logic would dictate if Yeshua is Messiah - another question which is historically proven, is based on Biblical evidence (Tanakh and B'rit Hadashah - Old and New Testaments), and has been seen in the experiential evidence of millions of individuals for over 2 centuries now - then something besides the squabble over whether something Shaul has already established in his writing, is the reason we have not yet seen the "tailos" come.
We simply have to stop taking a single Scripture and building a doctrine to preach from it. We must take Scripture in its totality.
We must KNOW the WORD in its completeness!
How then do we explain the delay in His return?
I believe a possible answer is found in our identity in Him (Yeshua/Jesus/Christ). In the B'rit Hadashah (New Testament) we find there are five categories of identity for every believer. For the sake of space, I will not go into each of them very deeply here, but only as much as we have on our "Get to Know Us" page on the website.
Namely they are:
Servants - in agreement with Mark 13:34, Romans 6:22, and Ephesians 6:6
Sons - in agreement with Romans 8:14; Galatians 4:6 and Philippians 2:15
Co-Laborer - in agreement with 1 Corinthians 3:9
Joint-Heirs - in agreement with Romans 8:17 and Ephesians 3:6
The Bride - in agreement with Revelation 21:19 and Revelation 22:17
These are not a pick and choose identity, as many often think of how they identify "who" we are in this life. They are also not characteristics of some sort of spiritual personality. These are an all or nothing package of who we are or must become in Christ to be assured of being part of the :catching away" when the "tailos" actually arrives! These are a gift of becoming something more than we are in ourselves. Something which God has given to His Body of believers. We must become each, not one or two. Too many focus on the one that appeals to them, or which somehow speaks to them in the place they are in life. This is not an option, but is it also not a burden. Becoming everything He has for us is a multifaceted and supernatural act which God Himself is fully committed to assisting us to not only accomplish; but has also empowered us with to walk in realms in Him in this life. We are in places in Him which we can only imagine until the day we are with Him - something religion has always told us is reserved only for the afterlife of those who are "good enough" at the end of this life to inherit heaven in eternity. I John 3:2 would seem to agree with this:
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."
But once again, we must refrain from building doctrine from an isolated verse. If we go back to the list of our 5 identities "in Christ" we find that this is but one very small part of who we really are "in Christ" but there is so very much more and frankly - MOST BELIEVERS ARE MISSING IT!!
Food for Thought:
While a spiritual experience can be a great clue to head us in the right direction, we cannot base an investigation of Scripture solely upon it. Nor can we do this for a single Scripture and justify creating a doctrine from it. Often dispensational teaching does exactly that. Much of the idea that "until the Gospel is preached to every nation" comes from a dispensational teaching. Dispensationalists erroneously teach that we are in a "dispensation of grace" now and a "Golden Age of Ruling" will come as a result of believers "taking authority" after the whole world has heard "the Gospel of the Kingdom". They often teach that somehow technology makes our generation the first and only to ever be capable of competing this task. While that is possible, to fully invest in that idea means to call Shaul a liar.
Now Back to Our Identity:
How about the question "So how then do we explain thedelay in His return?".
We have historical evidence in "church" documentation during the foundation of the Catholic Church (both Orthodoxy and the Roman traditions) that those having great desire to be close to God took on the role of servant. The oath of poverty is but one part of that, but it did replace the desire for worldly materials by way of involvement in acts of service in the name of piety. While the "theology" behind this was flawed (again due to a picking and choosing of Scriptures which were taken out of context and cultural/historical relevance), it did show the body of believers that serving others in the name of the Savior can and should be more than just an act of piety. Modern day examples of someone who, despite flawed religious obligation, was still able to touch lives for God is Mother Teresa. Honestly, I cannot think of a better example of servant leadership in my lifetime.
Then came the Reformation. Luther and his 95 Theses, brought the revelation of justification by Faith and not by works of service. The entire Protestant Renewal carried with it such doctrine(s) as the Sainthood of all Believers which contributed to this better theological understanding of who we are in Christ. While this does not absolve us from acts of service, it means they can now be done as unto God, and NOT to prove our worthiness of salvation to God. This sonship relationship has brought the church leaps and bounds from where it once was through the Dark Ages and into the re-establishment of many great gifts from God to the Body of believers.
Lastly regarding identity (leaving the other 3 elements of our Identity in Christ for you to search out) we must learn to identify ourselves as the Bride of Yeshua. Yes, in the realm of the Spirit, women can be sons and men can be a bride - LOL!! He is waiting for a MATURE BRIDE, not a child(ish) bride. The WORD shows us, by example in Esther, that He desires one who has taken full advantage of the entire preparation process and has not left out one step.
He wants a BRIDE who has used all the tools and gifts at her disposal to make herself ready to rule and reign with Him after the "wedding ceremony". We, the Body of Christ, are not there yet. There is so much infighting, posturing for position, jealousy, control, religious obligation, lack of understanding our Judaic roots and their relevance to understanding the teachings of the "New Testament", fear of new revelation, anxiety about letting people operate in their spiritual gifts (especially when it comes to allowing them to make mistakes), domineering leadership, hurt laity (mentioned as Nicolaitans in Revelation), lack of relevant answers for real problems, you name it...... this list can go on and on. The good news is that pockets of growth and maturity are popping up everywhere. If you find yourself in a body which is stuck in a rut, not allowing Ruach Ha'Kodesh (Holy Spirit) to move freely and be in charge - FEAR NOT - He is restoring all things to His Body. Soon enough the opportunity will come to your local assembly. In the meantime, prepare the soil for the seeds of Godly change and pray it will be accepted. If it is not, because of your hunger, He will show you what to do then. You may be the key to your assembly's destiny!
Further scriptural evidence:
As you have already seen, I believe in letting Scripture interpret Scripture. By doing this, I remain accountable to the authors and to the one source of inspiration they all had in common - God Himself. So, below are several versions/translations (vs 21 only) of one segment of Scripture which can shed some additional light and help bring all of this together.
King James Version "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3: 19-21).
Isolating Acts 3:21
King James Version “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.”
The Living Bible “For He must remain in heaven until the final recovery of all things from sin, as prophesied from ancient times.”
Moffatt “Christ must be kept in heaven till the period of the great Restoration. Ages ago God spoke of this by the lips of His holy prophets.”
Revised Standard Version “Whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets of old.”
Amplified New Testament “Whom heaven must receive (and retain) until the time for the complete restoration of all that God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets for ages past from the most ancient time in the memory of man."
Wrapping this up for now; Is Jesus coming soon? I believe the answer is yes - but on an eternal calendar that is a very relative statement. But if one runs the thread of teaching through every Scripture and not just a few spotted Scriptures isolated and mostly taken out of context, we can know the season even if no man knows the day or hour. Once those who carry the revelation of being His Bride (and all the other elements of our identity) is mature and prepared, and we see the fulfillment of every one of the "signs" Yeshua taught to His disciples in Matthew 24 (happening simultaneously) we can begin looking and listening for the "Last Trump" Shaul (Apostle Paul) wrote to the church of the Thessalonians. Reminder- it is known as the 7th Trumpet in Revelation. That should give you a solid clue to follow as you put it all together in its TOTALITY.
THIS IS AN EXCITING ADVENTURE! Don't let anything stop you from getting into this stream of love and grace flowing through His Word and His Spirit! Enjoy the ups and downs and know they are all making you into your part as the Mature Bride God is preparing for His Son Yeshua.
Coming soon - Will Every Believer be a Part of the Bride?
Until next time......
Update - 2/15/2019
Update - 6/15/2019